MARLBOROUGH – Beyond the numbers, the proposed 2024 fiscal year budget for Marlborough Public Schools is a glimpse into the inner workings of a school system.
Some of the budget’s goals are to expand access to pre-kindergarten; assist students who come from low-income families or whose first language may not be English; and help students deal with the impacts of the pandemic.
For the 2024 fiscal year, the budget request is $71,996,080, or 3.62% over the 2023 budget. This includes about $2.5 million in new funding requests.
What’s behind the increase
Of the $2.5 million in new requests, $1.9 million is earmarked for step raises for all qualifying Marlborough Educators Association, Unit B and Paraprofessional Unit members. A request for $150,000 would be for a screener to help support at-risk students, data training, software and stipends for the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) program.
There are additional requests for a full-time social and emotional learning supervisor.
“The district has made critical investments in the social-emotional well-being of Marlborough students. In addition to our school adjustment counselors and wrap-around coordinators, the district has invested heavily in anti-bias, anti-racism and restorative practices,” according to the budget message.
“As our students and staff adjust to a post-pandemic environment, it will be important for the district to continue investing in the social-emotional well-being of our students. To help guide our efforts in this important work, the district is looking for FY24 funding for an SEL supervisor.”
To support this, the district plans to redesign a previous position within the administrative union, which would be funded at $113,473.
MPS is also seeking $142,336 for two full-time technology/engineering elementary teachers.
According to the budget message, this would allow each elementary school to “schedule a full FTE in technology/engineering and extend the curriculum to younger students.”
Marlborough Public Schools is anticipating an increase in Chapter 70 funding from the state.
The budget also reflects the city’s changing demographics.
“The Marlborough Public Schools continue to honor our changing demographics and enhancing our services for our EL [English language learning] and low-income families,” according to the MPS budget message.
Since fiscal year 2018, the percentage of families in the school district that speak a first language other than English has grown from 47% to 58%. During that same period, the number of English language learners has increased to 31%, and the number of students who qualify as low income by the state grew to 59%.
To help address these changing needs, MPS has hired 10 in-house translators and created a community liaison team to improve community outreach.
It also used a state health grant and appropriations from the School Committee to fund three wrap-around coordinators to support students and families.
For fiscal 2024, MPS is requesting $42,000 in new funding to hire a part-time clerical support staff to help register students from higher-need families, especially those entering kindergarten.
Superintendent Mary Murphy’s budget was delivered to the School Committee on Feb. 14.
Moving forward, there was a budget workshop on March 1 to review Murphy’s budget request. On March 14, the School Committee will agree on the budget figure for fiscal year 2024 for it to be posted for a public hearing.
That hearing may take place on March 28, and the committee may vote on the budget at that time.
The budget would then be sent to Mayor Arthur Vigeant and the City Council April 3.